People who have cycled the Pamir Highway...

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
Rogo
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Joined: 8 Nov 2014, 7:41pm

People who have cycled the Pamir Highway...

Postby Rogo » 3 Mar 2015, 6:18pm

Just a few question, I'll be doing it in a few months.

1) Just how remote is it? I don't mind at all camping the entirety of it, but are there places for food/water along the route, and if so how often. I do have a Steripen so my main concern is food.

2) Daily distance. I realise this is a question open to many factors, but I'm just looking at a ball park here. I'm fit enough to cycle 100+ miles on an average day, so in my head I've got 60 miles.

3) If there's any other information I may have overlooked, please do let me know! Thanks!

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matt2matt2002
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Location: Aberdeen Scotland UK

Re: People who have cycled the Pamir Highway...

Postby matt2matt2002 » 3 Mar 2015, 8:04pm

Please contact me about your trip.
I am one of 4 cyclists who will start from Bishkek at the end of May.
We cycle South to Dushanbe and then East to the Pamir Highway.
Perhaps take in the Wakhan valley.
Then North back to Bishkek.
We fly home ( UK and Australia ) 26th July.

We have done work on the route and milage.

If you find anyone who has done this route already please pass on their details.

Plenty of YouTube clips and information on Crazyguyonabike.

Matt
2014 Scottish End2End 1 month
2015 Pamir Highway Tajikistan & Kyrgyzstan for 2 months
2016 Sri Lanka for 1 month.
2017 Herbrides Lewis Harris 2 weeks
2018 Ethiopia.5 weeks.
2018 Marrakech 2 weeks.
On a Thorn Raven/Rohloff hub.

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martin.philpot.3
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Location: Norwich, Norfolk
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Re: People who have cycled the Pamir Highway...

Postby martin.philpot.3 » 5 Mar 2015, 8:26am

I am planning to cycle the same/similar route a few weeks later during the months of July and August. When are you planning your trip?

paullferguson
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Re: People who have cycled the Pamir Highway...

Postby paullferguson » 12 Apr 2015, 3:04pm

I might meet you coming the other way then, although my timeframe is still rather unknown.
If the plan goes as expected (*cough + high hopes*) I will be leaving Istanbul in July ride to Bishkek and maybe on to China via Baku and the Pamirs.
Will keep an eye out for you.
I found some of Eleanor Moseman's http://www.wandercyclist.com/journey/ accounts useful and have been keeping a close eye on the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree forum for visa / current travel affairs in the various countries.

Would be good to hear from anyone else doing this rout (west-east) in July through August, be nice to share ideas and maybe the road.

iviehoff
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Re: People who have cycled the Pamir Highway...

Postby iviehoff » 13 Apr 2015, 9:14am

Did you find this detailed write up of a Pamirs tour?
http://www.masterlyinactivity.com/pamirs/intro.html

paullferguson
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Re: People who have cycled the Pamir Highway...

Postby paullferguson » 14 Apr 2015, 10:17pm

iviehoff wrote:Did you find this detailed write up of a Pamirs tour?
http://www.masterlyinactivity.com/pamirs/intro.html


Thanks iviehoff, lots of useful information there and an interesting alternative route.

Kieran2663
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Re: People who have cycled the Pamir Highway...

Postby Kieran2663 » 15 Apr 2015, 7:59pm

Hi Rogo,

Cycled the Pamir last summer as part of a 12 month tour from Turkey to India and it was without doubt one of the highlights.

The Pamir has 3 commonly cycled routes, the classic M41, the Wakhan & M41 and finally the M41 & Bartang Valley.
The M41 from Kalaikhum towards Khorog is fairly well populated in places, with Kalaikhum being a good places to stock up on essentials such as food and petrol. They are fair sized villages all the way through this bit of the valley with Rushan being the biggest town. The road is fairly busy with local traffic and tourists 4 x 4 between Dushanbe and Khorog and trucks doing trade runs between Tajik& China. There is a strong army presence in the area and you may find them turning up at your camp site to move you on or insist on having an armed guard stay with you over night for your "protection". It is one of the most stunning area of the whole trip.

The M41 is most remote after Murghab, and toward At Baital pass and then from Karakul to the Tajik/Kyrgyz border. Karakul is the last place with home stays and shops, although the shops were pretty barren when we were there, we purchased the last few snickers. Murghab is the most reliable town to stock up in the Eastern Pamir, be aware that food is limited and relatively expensive and not of the highest quality. Khorog is the best place to stock up on food supplies. Having said that we purchased most of our food in Dushnabe on the upper part of Rudaki Avenue there are a number of decent supermarket stocking western/ turkish food stuffs such as pasta, oats and tinned fish and meats, although expensive worth it in my opinion. We had some boil in the bag food shipped over to us to supplement food purchased in Dushanbe. We rolled heavy with all the food but we were fully self sufficient and apart from the coke and snickers bar we did want for much.
Food in the Pamirs is generally of low quality and hard to come by if not staying in home stays on route.

The Wakhan Valley was a real highlight with great views of the Hindu Kush & Afghanistan. The valley is well populated all the way to Langar and has numerous home stays and basic shops. The most remote part is from Langar back to the M41, which is around 90km and nothing else apart from an army checkpoint, so make sure you have enough supplies don't rely on the shops in Langar or the villages before to stock up in. Ishkashim has a small bazaar and few okay shops but nothing special. Water in the valley is plentiful in the right months and mountain fresh, we had a MSR pump but hardly used it as the water drinkable straight from the source, they are more than a few natural springs so keep your eyes peeled.

The Bartang Valley is the most remote part of the Pamir which can be cycled, although we didn't do it our self we met others we did, it takes around 8-9 days over rough tracks and there is very limited provisions on route, you have to be fully self sufficient for the duration. There are some issues with flooding of the road during the summer months.

Regarding distance, this is very much a personal choice of preference depending upon the individual and is therefore hard to judge. I would say the biggest challenges of the some sections of the route, certainly from Kalaikhum to Khorog and parts of the Wakhan were the road conditions, partly gravel, rocks of assorted sizes and sometimes sand which invariable impacted upon the distance achieved. Certain days in the Wakhan we cycled a mere 20kms one day then 35km the next due to the road and the potential for damage to the bike we made slow progress. We did Kalaikhum to Osh in 19 days. On the M41the conditions are better and bigger distances are possible, certainly after becoming acclimatised ( a day in Khorog was good for than standing at around 2500m) check out breaking boundaries website to see how quickly the Pamir can be cycled. The wind is also something to factor in, certainly after Murghab were we faced a constant ripping wind all the way to Osh, the wind was so strong in places it was easier to get off the bike and push. Overall the cycling isn't that tuff on the M41 but road, wind and altitude due play there role.

Other info that may be useful; if you can get your GBAO permit before arriving in Dushanbe then do it, when we were there they had been some fighting between the Pamirers & the Tajik police and number of deaths occurred and the OVIR office in Khorog was torched. Meaning the govt stopped issuing permits and we have to wait two weeks at the Adventures Inn with other frustrated wannabe Pamir cyclists. We finally managed to get the permits through Shargaff at Pamir Silk Travels for $35 per person, even though the permits weren't officially being issued. If they are issuing them to individual travellers then they cost $4 and can be sourced from the OVIR office in Dushnabe, but you would have to check the current situation on the ground to see what is currently happening.
Stock up on Somoni's in Dushanbe as they are no banking facilities (ATMs) from Dushnabe to Osh, have US as back up.
If you are in Tajikistan for more than 30 days you need to official registered at an OVIR office somewhere like Murghab would do, but is a pain and best avoided if possible.
Petrol for multi fuel stoves is available in Kalaikhum, Rushan, Khorog, Ishkashim and Murghab for sure and other places for less favourable prices if you ask around at at village, if I need.
Lastly, the FCO currently advises against all but essential travel to the GBAO, therefore voiding any UK based travel insurance, just something to keep in mind if that is something that would impact upon your travels there.
One last thing, make sure you keep hold of your exit form which you are given upon arrival in Tajikistan, the border guards were not the friendly people we came across and this had caused some issues for others we had met.

Have a wicked time and feel free to contact me if you need anything else answered.

Happy pedalling,

Kieran

Kieran2663
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Joined: 15 Apr 2015, 4:00pm

Re: People who have cycled the Pamir Highway...

Postby Kieran2663 » 15 Apr 2015, 10:06pm

Just a few photos to get you in the mood.
Image Attachments
image.jpg
Spot for the night
image.jpg
Hindu Kush
image.jpg
Wakhan
image.jpg
M41 to Khorog
image.jpg
m41 to Khorog

Rogo
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Joined: 8 Nov 2014, 7:41pm

Re: People who have cycled the Pamir Highway...

Postby Rogo » 16 Apr 2015, 8:57am

Wow - Kieran, thanks so much.

Really got me looking forward to this trip now, absolutely can't wait.

Thanks so much for your reply.

Psamathe
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Re: People who have cycled the Pamir Highway...

Postby Psamathe » 19 Apr 2015, 1:26pm

New'ish thread on Lonely Planet you might want to keep an eye on as well (not many contributions as yet).

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/forums/on-your-bike/topics/cycling-pamir-highway-2015-e65125b3-ef7c-4e5f-ab75-67e147ccdb3f

Ian

paullferguson
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Re: People who have cycled the Pamir Highway...

Postby paullferguson » 21 Apr 2015, 10:33pm

Thank you so much Kieran! Nice to hear a really through recent account, will definitely come in useful as I'm looking at the same rout by the sounds of it. Some amazing photos there, cant wait to try it with my own eyes.

When you say you didn't do the Bartang Valley, did you book / hitch a lift? And how easy was it to sort with the bikes?

Get the feeling there will be quite a few other riders out there so can probably group up if need I guess.

Big cheers again, Paul

Kieran2663
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Joined: 15 Apr 2015, 4:00pm

Re: People who have cycled the Pamir Highway...

Postby Kieran2663 » 21 Apr 2015, 11:37pm

Hi Paul,

No unfortunately we only cycled the M41 to Khorog, then the Wakhan valley to Langar and back up to the M41 near Alichur, then headed East towards Murghab and the Kyrgyz border. We would of loved to cycled the Bartang, but didn't have enough visa time to do all the routes. The Bartang splits of the M41 near the village of Rushan before Khorog and then rejoins the M41 after Murghab after crossing the At Baital pass, so you have to make a decision to either do the Wakhan or Bartang, unless you plan to do a full loop. Still have the Bartang on the list to do in future, it looks like another epic Pamir experience.

Hooking up with other cyclists is always possible, and I would say in Dushanbe @ Verionque's place (warm showers host and all time legendary point person for hosting sweaty cyclists in the city or the Adventure's Inn, where people head in and out for the Pamir. They are a fairly steady stream of cyclists during the peak months, so it shouldn't be an issue.

Enjoy it man, would love to go back again.

K

paullferguson
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Re: People who have cycled the Pamir Highway...

Postby paullferguson » 25 Apr 2015, 2:53pm

Cheers K, much appreciated.

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Monsieur
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Re: People who have cycled the Pamir Highway...

Postby Monsieur » 25 Apr 2015, 5:13pm

Those photos are stunning Kieran!
Solvitur ambulando

serbring
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Re: People who have cycled the Pamir Highway...

Postby serbring » 4 May 2015, 11:19pm

Hi,

thank you so much for your precious information. I am planning to cycle along the M41 the next August. I have just few questions. I have a 10°C sleeping bag, is it warm enough for that period?

Kieran2663 wrote:Hi Rogo,

Cycled the Pamir last summer as part of a 12 month tour from Turkey to India and it was without doubt one of the highlights.


Congratulations for your trip, I believe it had been a great experience for you.

The Pamir has 3 commonly cycled routes, the classic M41, the Wakhan & M41 and finally the M41 & Bartang Valley.
The M41 from Kalaikhum towards Khorog is fairly well populated in places, with Kalaikhum being a good places to stock up on essentials such as food and petrol. They are fair sized villages all the way through this bit of the valley with Rushan being the biggest town. The road is fairly busy with local traffic and tourists 4 x 4 between Dushanbe and Khorog and trucks doing trade runs between Tajik& China. There is a strong army presence in the area and you may find them turning up at your camp site to move you on or insist on having an armed guard stay with you over night for your "protection". It is one of the most stunning area of the whole trip.



Just for curiosity: what did they do when they are with you for your overnight "protection"?

Would you suggest to go there without the MSR pump? Despite the Bartang Valley, for how long would you suggest to have food supplies?


Stock up on Somoni's in Dushanbe as they are no banking facilities (ATMs) from Dushnabe to Osh, have US as back up.


How much money did you carry to carry with you from Dushanbe to Osh? Do people accept €?